I have a good reason (I promise) for getting this Thanksgiving post up one week late. I spent Thanksgiving and the week following it on vacation, being thankful for the time with my family. But now I'm back to work and blogging once again!
We had a very special Thanksgiving this year - sadly the first I've spent with any family beyond my husband and daughter in a long time. When you live far from family and work in an industry that doesn't stop for the holidays, getting away and spending quality time with family can be difficult to say the least. But Thanksgiving 2013 started with a drive to Huntsville, Alabama, where a feast awaited at my mother-in-law's house. How I have missed family gatherings!!!
I grew up in a very close-knit family where large family gatherings were the norm - it was what we did, what I knew. At one point, I lived on the same street as my maternal grandparents and great-grandparents, with more grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all a few minutes drive away. We were always together, in each others' business, talking and laughing - and it was marvelous!
Now we're spread from Florida to Georgia to North Carolina to Montana - making large gatherings pretty much reserved to weddings and funerals. It's still a shock to my love of family togetherness, especially at the holidays.
So I was quite excited to have the chance this year to sit down with my husband's family. It might not be my biological family - the sisters I grew up sharing secrets with or the little brother who was forever getting into my stuff, the grandparents who shared their wisdom or the parents who were always there for me - but it was a large group of family nonetheless. And it was my four-year-old daughter's first experience that she'll actually remember of a large family get-together during the holidays. On Thanksgiving Day, she started making new memories over turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and gravy and pumpkin pie. She got to experience the childhood stories swapped by grown siblings sitting around the table, the noise that crescendos when 15 people all try to talk at once, the grandmother that keeps asking if everyone has had enough and wants to feed you to the max, and the laughter - that non-stop laughter that comes from so much love. It was a day of new memories for my daughter and the stirrings of old memories for me.
And in the days that followed during our stay with my mother-in-law, I got to see a magic that eclipsed even that Thanksgiving Day. My daughter got to know and love a grandmother she didn't ever remember meeting - their last meeting was my daughter's first birthday. With my mom gone before my daughter's birth, this is the only grandmother she will ever get to know. It brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons as I watched my little one bask in and soak up a grandmother's love - reading books, learning to sew, helping her cook, learning life's lessons.
It was a much-needed week of family. It is the reason I am giving thanks today, and I hope each one of you found your own bit of magic and reason to be thankful this holiday.